Originally mesotrophic, the Bay of Quinte ecosystem has experienced eutrophication since the 1940s, which resulted in the decline of once-lush submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds in the upper bay by the mid-1960s. Since 1972, twelve SAV surveys have been conducted along ten index transects, recording:% cover, distance SAV beds extended from shore (extent), maximum depth of colonization (Zc), species composition, and, in later years, wet plant biomass. Offshore secchi depth and ϵpar, (the vertical light extinction rate (m−1) for photosynthetically active radiation), were also recorded either weekly or bi-weekly during the growing season since 1972. During this time, two major changes occurred within the bay: the reduction in point-source phosphorus (P-control) loadings in 1978 and the 1993 invasion by Dreissenid Mussel. SAV response to these changes varied temporally and spatially, with the shallow upper bay showing the greatest response, particularly after Zebra Mussels establishment. In the upper bay, mean secchi depth increased by 8% from 1.2 m prior to P-control (pre-P), to 1.3 m after P-control (post-P) and further increased by 46% to 1.9 m after Dreissena establishment (post-D). Upper bay SAV responded to these invasive species with increases in the means of three variables: Zc from 1.6 to 3.5 m, extent from 114 m to 417 m and wet biomass from 50 g m−2 to 962 g m−2. SAV in the middle and lower bays were in better condition in 1972, with pre-P cover in excess of 50% and Zc of 2.6 and 3.7 m, respectively. SAV cover did increase in the post-D (1994 to 2007) period by approximately 25% and Zc increased to 3.7 and 6.5 m, but the narrow fringing strip of shallower water along the shore in these two deeper bays limited substantial increases in bed extent. Both water clarity and basin morphometry strongly influenced SAV distribution and abundance within the Bay of Quinte.

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